Future Friday: The Human Condition

by Michael Haberman on November 4, 2016 · 3 comments


The human condition is to complain about the next generation.

The human condition is to complain about the next generation.

I was reading a piece by Dan Schawbel, a favorite writer of mine, where he was talking about 10 trends for 2017. (I could gripe that we are just into November and we are already getting 2017 articles, but hey Christmas decorations are already up as well.) In his article in Forbes Schawbel says that Millennials will begin to meet Generation Z in the workplace. Not to surprisingly the major complaint of the Millennials sounds somewhat familiar.

Same refrain just a different singer

Schawbel said that the older Millennials in the workplace are in management positions. They are now having to deal with the new workers from Gen Z. He says “Just like with all generations studied, millennials negatively stereotype gen Zs as being lazy, which will cause some friction.” I was not surprised by that statement.

Complaining about the younger generations has been around forever. In Book III of Odes, around 20 BC, Horace, a Roman lyric poet wrote:

Our sires’ age was worse than our grandsires’. We, their sons, are more worthless than they; so in our turn we shall give the world a progeny yet more corrupt.

More recently, in 1904, psychologist and educator Granville Stanley Hall published The Psychology of Adolescence, in which he warned that it was a dangerous time, particularly for young folk:

Never has youth been exposed to such dangers of both perversion and arrest as in our own land and day. Increasing urban life with its temptations, prematurities, sedentary occupations, and passive stimuli just when an active life is most needed, early emancipation and a lessening sense for both duty and discipline, the haste to know and do all befitting man’s estate before its time, the mad rush for sudden wealth and the reckless fashions set by its gilded youth–all these lack some of the regulatives they still have in older lands with more conservative conditions.

-Both quotes from 15 Historical Complaints About Young People Ruining Everything

It is the nature of humans

My parent’s generation complained about my generation, my generation complained about the Gen X’s, who in turn complained about Millennials who now in turn are starting to complain about Gen Z. It is the condition of each to complain about the next, and also about the previous. Your generation is the “good one” mostly because you are in it. It is all about perception, as I am learning in The Wisest Person in the Room by Thomas Gilovich and Lee Ross.

Author Alex Morritt said:

Age is a seasoned trickster. To our parents, we will always be children. Within ourselves, the same yearnings of youth; the same aspirations of adolescence, will last a lifetime. Only to the young – blinded by our grey hair and slowing gait – do we appear old and increasingly beyond the pale.”

Before you criticize the new younger worker in the future remember what Adlai Stevenson said “Nothing so dates a man as to decry the younger generation.” Besides we need them to continue to pay into social security.


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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Sandy Nolen November 5, 2016 at 2:51 pm

Interesting article. It is truly a human nature. We tend to think highly of ourselves and think no one can do the job as good as us. As we grow, we cling on to our ideals while younger generation tend to think and see differently. The organizations that are set to benefit from this generational workforce are the ones who have figured out how best to utilize each generation’s strength and channel int into success.

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Michael Haberman November 7, 2016 at 1:34 pm

A very wise comment Sandy. Thanks!

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Lorrie December 9, 2016 at 12:28 am

Bol©uor,DésonÃj, j’ai mis Sandrine V. pour Sandrine VACHEROT car je ne voulais pas que mon nom entier apparaisse en public mais finalement je me rend compte que de toute façon il apparaît dans mon lien FB !!!Je vous souhaite une belle journée.

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